GAA Football

Kilrea cover the KMs to raise over £22,000

Organisers Karen Kielt and Brian Óg McAlary.

AS Karen Kielt and Brian Óg McAlary passed each other daily on their opposite 5km runs through Kilrea, they thought there had to be a way to make more use of their time and effort.

With pretty much everyone hitting the roads to get their daily exercise and stave off the boredom of lockdown, the pair enlisted their fellow senior camogs and footballers at Pearses GAC and aimed to run 1,000km between them in a 24-hour period.

The original idea was that between the 70 of them, they'd do 10km each and that they'd find volunteers to make up the remaining 300km.

By the time Kielt and McAlary, both of whom have played at inter-county level for Derry, were beginning the final leg at 5am on Sunday, more than 500 people had taken part in either running or walking for an hour at a time.

“Everybody was bored silly, we were doing all this running, we thought we could make some money out of it!” said Kielt.

“Running is about the only thing you can do at the minute, and it brought the whole community together.

“We said we could run a senior event around the clock, and then it just grew and grew, everyone got involved.

“The seniors did the 24-hour run, whereas kids and families did 8am to 7pm.”

In total, they covered 4,369km and raised just over £22,000 for the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke charity, done so in the name of two local men who passed away last year.

Stalwarts Tommy Donaghy and Brian Calvert, who was the club's serving U16 football manager when he died suddenly last June and himself a keen athlete, were in the thoughts of their clubmates as they pounded the streets around the town from early Saturday morning until early Sunday.

As the birds sang on Sunday morning, Brian's family joined Kielt and McAlary on the final run, by which point the natural competitiveness had long since displayed itself in the distances being clocked up by runners.

“It ended up being a competition,” Kielt laughed.

“You had an hour to race and everyone ended up doing as much as possible in that time.

“The seniors were divided hourly, but if you wanted to go and run again you could, and some were doing that.”

Their biggest tally was clocked by former footballer Dermot Morrow, who took his turn in Australia and turned in 14km along the Sunshine Coast.

They had runners in America and Thailand as well.

“We were lucky with the weather and so many people got involved,” said Kielt.

“It spiralled out of control a wee bit to be honest, we didn't expect that number of people.

“The generosity was incredible – people from our own club, from other clubs, non-GAA people, everyone.

“It's great to see, it's such a great charity that helps so many people here.”

The £22,000 total raised by Kilrea GAC for the charity will increase further once Gift Aid donations are added.

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GAA Football